Updated: Nov 22, 2014 2:02 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

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Game Cancellation Causes Double Fine Layoffs

Double Fine Productions has laid off a dozen staff after an unannounced game they were developing was dropped by an unnamed publisher. Double Fine founder Tim Schafer explains in a terse statement provided to Gamasutra:

"One of our unannounced projects was unexpectedly cancelled by its publisher, forcing us to reduce our staff by 12 people. Our remaining projects -- Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Grim Fandango Remastered, were unaffected."

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pros Banned

PC Gamer has details on a few high-profile professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players who were banned this week by Valve's Anti-Cheat software. They also offer some background on the cheat they are accused of using, saying it "is allegedly very difficult to detect, so much so it’s not out of the question for it to have been used at live LAN events." They also explain how this comes at a crucial time, as a big tournament is about to get underway:

Admissions of hacking by three professional CS:GO players have cast a shadow of suspicion on the CS:GO competitive scene. The outed players, Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian, Simon "smn" Beck, and Gordon "Sf" Giry each received in-game bans through VAC earlier this week. The revelations call into question the players’ past performances, both during online tournaments and at LAN events, where the cheat, which allegedly connects through a player’s Steam Workshop, could have been used. For some in the scene, the news also presents the uncomfortable possibility that other professional players have used similar, still-undetected cheats in tournament play.

These revelations could not have come at a worse time for CS:GO e-sports—we’re days away from the biggest tournament in the game’s history, the DreamHack Winter 2014.

Professional CS:GO players have been VAC banned before, but arguably not such high-profile players. KQLY, the most prominent player of the three, admitted in a statement on Facebook (that I’ve translated from French using Facebook’s integrated tool) that he had used a third-party program “for seven days.” KQLY denied using the program while he was a member of Titan (during the DreamHack Invitational, for example, which Titan won). “As you may have seen yesterday, I was banned by VAC and unfortunately it was justified,” KQLY wrote. “I wanted to say that I am really sorry for all the people who supported me, I am aware that with my bullshit, my career is now over and my team in a very bad position. They did not deserve it.”

When he was offered use of the program, KQLY says, the provider reassured him that “many pro players” were using it.

Mordheim: City of the Damned Early Access

Focus Home Interactive is now offering early access to Mordheim: City of the Damned on Steam, which allows a first crack at Rogue Factor's turn-based tactical-RPG based on Games Workshop's Warhammer tabletop game. Early access carries a 20% discount off the full price, and they provide this outline of what to expect:

The Warbands currently available are: the Human Mercenaries from the Empire, and the Skaven from Clan Eshin. Your warmongering will take place on two procedural maps with randomized elements, and two unique maps, in the classic deathmatch mode. New players need not worry, as basics will be taught through four tutorials introducing them to the game!

Content will be rolled out incrementally over the course of the Early Access campaign, with Rogue Factor listening as players report their findings having dove into the exciting dark fantasy setting of Mordheim.

Steamship Ahoy - TOME: Immortal Arena

Steam now offers TOME: Immortal Arena, a free-to-play brawler MOBA. Here's word on the new content that comes with the game's official arrival on Steam :

The game’s debut on Steam is marked by the launch of a 5v5 Map “Sanctuary”. Available now for free download TOME: Immortal Arena turns a new page for the MOBA category, with a streamlined, fast-paced, action-first approach to the popular game genre.

With a guiding design philosophy that emphasizes action and accessibility, TOME: Immortal Arena rewrites the unintuitive elements of the genre that clutters and complicates gameplay. Conceived and created by a team of gaming veterans who have collectively contributed to some of the most notable MOBAs (League of Legends), competitive RTS titles (Command & Conquer), and MMORPGs (World of Warcraft) in history, TOME: Immortal Arena offers a fresh, fast, and more fight-focused take for inexperienced and seasoned players alike.

EVE Online Trailer

A new trailer for EVE Online features memorable audio moments captured from actual gameplay in EVE Online, offering voice communications from players to give a sense of the space-based MMORPG for those who haven't played it, with cinematic visuals provided by CCP. That video has clean audio, but there is also an uncensored version (NSFW) which includes some of the salty language that can occur in the heat of battle. Word is: "Our players responded overwhelmingly, and from their audio submissions CCP’s award-winning cinematics team created a trailer to portray the visceral gameplay experiences and real emotions of the recordings. This trailer concentrates less on EVE itself and more on the people who have made it live and breathe since 2003—the players." They hope that what this displays will inspire gamers to take them up on their 14-day free trial for the game. Continue here to read the full story.

Saturday Patches

On Sale

  • Shadowgate on Steam. Save 65%.

Saturday Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Saturday Consolidation

Saturday Mobilization

Saturday Metaverse

Saturday Tech Bits

Saturday Safety Dance

Saturday Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • Aerocool DS 200 Gehäuse on Technic3D. German.
  • AOC U2868PQU 4K UHD 28 inch LCD Monitor on Nikk Tech.
  • Biostar A68N-5000 on LAN OC.
  • CalDigit T3 Thunderbolt 2 Triple-Drive RAID Array Storage Unit on TweakTown.
  • Cooler Master V1200 Platinum Power Supply on AnandTech.
  • In Win D Frame Mini Aluminum and Glass Mini-ITX Case on PC Perspective.
  • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G on Neoseeker.
  • Nvidia Shield Tablet Android 5.0 Lollipop on eTeknix.
  • SteelSeries Elite Prism Gaming Headset on TweakTown.
  • thinksound On1 on APH Networks.
  • TRENDnet Powerline 500AV2 TPL-408E2K Network Adapter Kit on TweakTown.
  • XFX XTS Series 1000 W on techPowerUp.


Out of the Blue

I don't usually go out for my birthday, and I am not much of a drinker, but both of those tendencies were discarded last night, as I went out with my buddies and got more than a little tipsy. I decided to just copy what one of my friends was having, which turned out to be margaritas, and any attempt at putting a number on how many were consumed would be a rough estimate at best. But I got home safe and sound, and am hardly the worse for wear today, so things worked out exceptionally well. Thanks for all the well-wishing. :)

Exceptional Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Bobby Da Arrow.
Driving Force.
Stories: Chess Grand Master falls asleep during game World Championship. Thanks Boing Boing.
"Justified," "Archer," "Americans" Returns Set.
Science: Time Travel Is Real. Here Are the People and Spacecraft Who Have Done It.
Why Does My Dog Kick When I Scratch His Belly?
Hand dryers can spread bacteria in public toilets, research finds.
Media: Guy Runs Into Insane GTA V Traffic Jam That Escalates Way Too Fast.
Watch Incredible Audio Visualisation In Nigel Stanford's Music Video. Thanks j.c.f.
Follow-up: Sculptor Offers Another Clue in 24-Year-Old Mystery at C.I.A. Thanks j.c.f.

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Friday, Nov 21, 2014

Elite: Dangerous Refunds Reconsidered

A forum post from David Braben has further follow-up on outcry about Frontier's refund policy following the news that Elite: Dangerous will not support offline play (thanks PC Gamer). Word is they are reconsidering refunds for cases where the customer has already played a an alpha or beta version of the crowdfunded space combat sequel:

I want to keep you all updated.

We initially declined some people's request for refund as our records showed they have already played Elite: Dangerous online. After listening to many of the comments I received after my AMA here, we have since re-opened these requests and informed those people that we will be contacting them so that we can fully understand their individual situation before making a more informed decision.

We will be contacting them each in the next few working days.

On Assassin's Creed Unity Microtransactions

An article on Kotaku says "I Spent $100 In Assassin's Creed Unity So You Wouldn't Have To," with some details on how microtransactions work in Assassin's Creed Unity, the just-released stealth/action sequel (thanks nin). The author discusses what went right and wrong along the way, and the worst of what went wrong would seem to be that they are offering a $100.00 tier that's more than half wasted money:

As a player who purchased the $100 option, nothing made me feel more disrespected than finishing the game with $56 of Helix credits and nothing to buy. The only options left were gear I hadn't unlocked (and had no need for) or else buy 74 premium boosts that I did not need thanks to my high powered gear. I'm not usually a season pass person, but I have more than enough Helix to cover the $30 price tag if only the game would let me.

Alienware's "PC Gaming Console"

Alienware announces the Alpha, calling this "the World’s First PC Gaming Console." This runs their proprietary "Alpha UI" to combine with the included Xbox 360 Wireless Controller to provide mouse- and keyboard-free navigation, and will be able to run Windows 8.1 or Steam Big Picture mode for a living room gaming experience, which they say quot;truly combines the ease of a console with the freedom of a PC." Here's more on what this includes, which they say ushers in "a new era in gaming":

For a limited time, fans who order the Alienware Alpha will receive their consoles packed with free bonus content including the complete versions of Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Awesomenauts, Magicka, Metro: Last Light, PAYDAY 2 and Strike Suit Zero. Alienware Alpha will also include an exclusive Gauntlet in-game item, the Magicka: Dungeons and Daemons DLC, as well as Alienware exclusive demos of Defense Grid 2 and Super Splatters. Get gaming on day one with new and exciting bundled content, along with all of the existing titles gamers already have filling up their Steam libraries.

Project CARS Pre-purchases

Steam News announces pre-purchases are now underway for Project CARS, saying those who but the racing game in advance will get a few special cars:

Pre-purchase Project CARS today and get 3 amazing limited-run custom machines waiting for you in your garage and ready to use in all game modes!*

Project CARS is the ultimate driver journey!

Guided, tested, and approved by a passionate community of racing fans and real-life drivers, Project CARS represents the next-generation of racing simulation as the ultimate combination of fan desire and developer expertise.

Discover an unrivaled immersion fuelled by world-class graphics and handling that allows you to truly feel the road. Create a driver, pick from a huge variety of motorsports in a dynamic career mode and write your own tale in an intense online multiplayer.

*Offer ends at March 17th 2015

On Sale

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Celebrities Read Mean Tweets #8. Thanks nin.

WoW 10th Anniversary Celebrations

Battle.net details special events getting underway today to celebrate this weekend's 10th anniversary of World of Warcraft, Blizzard's MMORPG which launched on November 23, 2004. Here's word on what to expect, with last night's references to "tomorrow" now representing today:

This weekend marks World of Warcraft’s 10th anniversary, and we’d like to thank you for exploring Azeroth with us for all these years. To help celebrate, tomorrow we’re unleashing some great anniversary-themed in-game content for you to enjoy, whether you’re taking a stroll down memory lane or experiencing some of WoW’s defining conflicts for the very first time.

To make sure everyone has plenty of opportunity to take part in the celebration—while still being able to enjoy everything Warlords of Draenor has to offer—all of the anniversary content launching tomorrow will be available until the beginning of 2015. Check out the details below—we’ll see you there!

When: Friday, November 21–Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 10 a.m. PST

A Fiery New Friend
Everyone who logs in during the anniversary period will receive a feisty, fiery new Molten Corgi to love, pet, and call their own. Cuddle at your own risk.

Maximum Molten Core
One of WoW’s classic 40-player raids, Molten Core, will be available in Raid Finder for level 100 players (average item level 615 required). Making it through the underground gauntlet and defeating Ragnaros will reward players with a Core Hound mount and a Warlords of Draenor Raid Finder–quality helm—100% guaranteed! For a walkthrough of the non–Raid Finder version of the dungeon, check out our earlier Revisiting Heroism’s Past – Molten Core guide.

Southshore vs. Tarren Mill—The Battle Continues
To recapture the feeling of the endless tug-of-war of early WoW PvP, we’re opening a special Team Deathmatch–style Battleground based on the timeless struggle between Southshore and Tarren Mill. We’ll have two different brackets for players to take part in: one for level 90–99 characters and another for level 100. Unlike the old days of Tarren Mill vs. Southshore, this Battleground has a clearly defined victor, so you’ll need to work as a team or face crushing defeat. A win will gain you a shiny new title: either Tarren Mill Terror for the Alliance or Southshore Slayer for the Horde.

WARMACHINE: Tactics Full Release

Privateer Press Interactive announced the full release of WARMACHINE: Tactics on Steam for Windows and OS X, following an early access period for this turn-based tactical combat game. "It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign for WARMACHINE: Tactics," said WARMACHINE creator and Privateer Press founder Matt Wilson. "I am humbled and thankful that today we can celebrate bringing the WARMACHINE world to life on PCs and Macs, for all the WARMACHINE miniatures gamers who played out the action of the tabletop in their imaginations, and for all the video gamers who will experience the WARMACHINE world for the first time." Here's the news:

Privateer Press Interactive announced that WARMACHINE: Tactics is moving out of Early Access, and the full version is now available on Steam for $39.99. As part of this full version release, WARMACHINE: Tactics now includes a full 20-mission single player campaign in addition to its robust skirmish and multiplayer modes.

Based on the award-winning WARMACHINE tabletop miniatures game, WARMACHINE: Tactics is a turn-based, squad-level strategy game for PC and Mac developed in cooperation with WhiteMoon Dreams and published by Privateer Press Interactive. The game has been enthusiastically received by Early Access players and critics, with Nerd Reactor calling it “a blast” and the Dread Gazebo calling it “sheer joy.” WARMACHINE: Tactics funded through Kickstarter, entered Early Access on Steam 10 months from the close of the campaign, and reached full version release after just 15 months.

Assassin's Creed Unity Crash Workaround

The Assassin's Creed blog has details on an issue Ubisoft has identified in Assassin's Creed Unity that causes the game to crash when pressing the "continue" button in the stealth/action sequel, which does not seem like such an obscure action that it should have escaped notice during testing. While they don't yet have a fix, they offer a temporary workaround, saying deleting your game contacts should prevent the problem from occurring. Here are the details:

We have discovered one of the issues that may cause the game to crash at the main menu after pressing the CONTINUE button. This issue affects all platforms.

The team is working hard on a fix for those players that have been affected by this. However, for players who haven’t experienced this issue, we highly recommend you take the following steps to prevent a crash:

  • If you already have GAME CONTACTS, perform the following to remove them:

    My Brotherhood > My Contacts > Game Contacts (using RB/R1) > Focus on a Contact (LS) > More Actions (Y/Triangle) > Remove from contacts.

If you are still experiencing a crash at the main menu even after the above steps, then please file a ticket at support.ubi.com.

Steamships Ahoy - App Game Kit 2

The Game Creators announce the release of App Game Kit 2 for Windows and OS X on Steam, offering what they call an "Easy +" tool for "Instant Game Development." This is actually not quite out, as the page says it will unlock in approximately four hours. Here's word:

The Game Creators today released App Game Kit (AGK) version 2 on STEAM, which means that the easy to use, instant coding tool for beginners, hobbyists and indies alike is now available on the largest digital store in the world.

Now anyone can easily and quickly code and build apps for cross platforms using AGKs BASIC scripting system. With just a few commands users can have demos or games up and running on mobile devices. AGK also caters for more seasoned developers, allowing them to use the AGK C++ libraries and benefit from all the features of AGKs core game engine.

AGK is available for both Windows and Mac platforms and apps can be deployed cross platform including iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Mac - all at the very affordable price of just $99.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Morning Patches

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Happy birthday to me, as it was some insane number of years ago on this date that I entered the world as a bundle of joy, only to continue spreading joy ever since. I kid of course, but I am indeed feeling joyful myself this year, in contrast to last year when the occasion involved a couple of heartbreaking deaths in the family. I may wrap things up early today to begin celebrating, so thanks in advance for your indulgence.

There's been talk over the years about an ad-free version of this site, and the newly announced Contributor by Google program may be a way to easily accomplish this, so I have applied. It may be that this just replaces Google AdSense ads, so we'll have to see how this works if we are accepted, but this has potential.

Annual Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork.
TDP5 Arena.
Story: Penelope Cruz signs on for 'Zoolander 2'.
Media: Tie Fighters (ft. Jimmy Kimmel).
One Guy Took On An Army of Goats in Far Cry 4.
My Impressions of Celebrities Stuck in Traffic.
Back in Black - Black Friday.

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